Meet YIC, short for “your inner critic.” He’s a popular guest for the holidays. He lurks around, whispering sweet nothings. “Your gifts aren’t good enough.” “Your sister’s party is better than yours.” “You kids need better table manners.” “You should do more, be more, accomplish more.” “What? Still single this year? Still not pregnant? Still drinking? Still unhappy in your job? Still overweight?” YIC is relentless, keeping such an insistent negative tape running in our heads that yuletide joy seems downright unattainable. Here’s how to uninvite him from the festivities:
1) Get YIC out of your head. When thoughts are set free from the brain and written down, they may seem less depressing, less overwhelming, or even less accurate. When one client journaled negative thoughts about her low-paying job, she realized she had many reasons she liked it – convenience, flexibility. Once she realized why she held on to that job, her negative tape quit running.
2) Recognize where YIC likes to hang out….and run! Some people always get snippy when looking at perfect smiling holiday cards or listening to their more wealthy friends talk about Lululemon gift sprees. Be aware of your triggers and avoid them. Avoid that big spender like the plague this time of year and perhaps opt to boycott the display of holiday cards.
2) Talk back to YIC. You may still be single but perhaps you did some travelling, met some great people, redecorated? You may still be drinking…but a lot less than last year. Or your kids may need better table manners, but they just got straight A’s. Don’t let YIC have the last word.
3) Separate what YIC thinks you should worry about from what you think you should worry about. Though there may be pressure to change jobs, get married, have a cleaner house, or give more luxurious gifts, these might not actually be your priorities. Don’t own stress that isn’t yours.
4) Give YIC some competition. Challenge YIC Sr (“your inner critic”) with YIC Jr (“your inner cheerleader.”) Be silly. Have fun. If you restrain yourself from spitting in the punch of that gossipy office mate, congratulate yourself! Give yourself a high five when you accomplish half of your to-do list. Sing your praises if you eat four cookies instead of the preferred eleven.
Plagued by an inner critic that just won’t quit? Come in after the holidays and let’s send him packing. Reduced fee visit certificates on sale through 1/5/15.
Debbie Granick is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and a Therapist in Raleigh providing both counseling and medication to reduce anxiety and depression and improve mental health. She is available to speak about wellness to groups of all sizes.